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‘Kundli to Gurgaon in an hour’

Posted: Jul 07, 2006 at 0958 hrs IST

If you live in Sonepat but travel frequently to Gurgaon, it’s a long, tiring drive at present requiring you to negotiate Delhi’s crowded roads. But your troubles are short-lived. Within three years, D S Constructions, a Delhi-based company, will complete the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway, also known as Western Peripheral Expressway. Starting from Kundli, north of Delhi, the expressway will proceed in a 135-km-long arc west of Delhi. Along the way it will intersect NH-10 (near Bahadurgarh and Rohtak) and NH-8 (near Manesar), and terminate six kilometres ahead of Palwal (south of Faridabad). H S Kohli, director, D S Construction, and chairman, KMP Expressway, the company that has won the tender from Haryana State Industrial Corporation (HSIDC) for developing this expressway, spoke to Sanjay Kr Singh about the pleasant commute ahead for travellers.

What is the idea behind constructing this expressway?
At present, a lot of traffic coming from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, which is not going to terminate in Delhi, passes through the capital city. Constructing the expressway will allow this traffic to bypass the city, thereby reducing congestion within Delhi and lowering pollution levels.

In addition to this expressway, there also exists a separate plan for building the Eastern Peripheral Expressway. It will begin from Palwal, go via Noida, and terminate at Kundli, thereby forming a complete Ring Road.

By how much is KMP Expressway expected to reduce travel time between Kundli and Gurgaon?
Today if you are travelling from Kundli to Gurgaon, given the quality of roads, the distance, and the amount of traffic you encounter, it takes at least two-and-a-half hours. In addition, you have to pass through Delhi. Once this two-lane expressway is ready, you will be able to cover 135 km in slightly more than an hour. Remember that the entire stretch will be free of traffic lights. And you will have quality driving, which means less damage to your car.

What industrial development is the construction of this expressway expected to foster?
Haryana government has plans for developing the entire area along this expressway as an industrial corridor. Already Reliance is developing a Special Economic Zone in Gurgaon and Jhajjar districts. Near Sonepat an Education City is under development. Infotech parks and industrial towns are also planned.

The Sonepat-Panipat belt has handloom, textile, and footwear industries. A number of these will shift to this corridor because of the infrastructure that will become available here, such as an airport and an international container depot. This zone will also be linked directly to ports in Gujarat, both by road and by rail, which will facilitate export and import. Custom clearance facility will also be available here.

A lot of perishable fruits come from Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. The processing units in these states are small. With the tax relief provided within SEZs, and the airport that will allow quick transportation, this area could easily develop into a food-processing and export hub.

Maruti has bought 600 acres within Haryana. If other car manufacturers also set up plants here, the area could develop into the Detroit of north.
Gems and jewellery and apparels are some of the other industries that are expected to come up in a big way here.
Haryana government is also planning to come up with a power plant to meet the power requirements of this industrial corridor.

A large number of residential developments are already coming up in townships along this corridor. What impact is the expressway expected to have?
Bahadurgarh, Jhajjar, Rohtak, Sonepat, Manesar, Palwal and Sohna are among the fastest growing towns of Haryana. Huge townships are expected to come up here, most of them initiated by private developers.

The expressway was announced about three years ago. Since then, a number of proactive real estate companies have purchased land and begun development, especially in the Sonepat-Kundli area going right up to Panipat. At the southern tip, if you visit Palwal, signboards of private developers are up everywhere.

Whom will these residential townships target?
The middle-income segment can’t afford apartments in places like south Delhi, Gurgaon or Noida, where rates have risen to Rs 4,000-5,000 per sq ft and above. Those with a budget of Rs 10-25 lakh will welcome the opportunity to move to these mini-townships along this expressway, especially if they can reach their office or factory in less than an hour.

A number of expressway projects get delayed. The Taj Expressway is one instance. What have you done to ensure that your project will be completed on schedule?
Delays happen because land acquisition is not completed on time. Then, if an operational road is being widened into an expressway, you have to cope with the running traffic. Removing utilities takes a lot of time in such cases. Again, if the expressway passes through several states, then too there are delays in land acquisition, compensation to owners, and in obtaining sanctions from multiple agencies.

In this case, the government of Haryana is acquiring the land and handing it over to us. It has acquired 80-90 per cent land already. Moreover, this is a greenfield project, so we won’t have to cope with running traffic. The entire project runs through only one state, Haryana, so the problem of dealing with multiple agencies doesn’t exist. Internally, our resources are in place, and we have planned the project well. Finally, the Supreme Court is monitoring the progress of this project. So the chances of it getting delayed are very small.

Harayana government plans to develop the entire area along the expressway as an industrial belt
How did the Supreme Court come into the picture?
The plan for developing this expressway was mooted by the SC. Some time ago, when Delhi had become very polluted, the Supreme Court had taken several initiatives to reduce pollution. These included introducing CNG, moving polluting industries out, and banning polluting vehicles. That was when the Court suggested developing an expressway that would allow vehicles to bypass Delhi. So the Court has been a part of this development and it asks for regular progress reports.

What is the revenue model for the expressway?
Based on the detailed project report prepared by RITES, a toll fee structure has been fixed. Passenger cars, vans and jeeps will be charged Rs 0.75 per km. Light commercial vehicles will be charged Rs 1.25 per km. Trucks and buses will be charged Rs. 2.60 per km. Multi axel vehicles will be charged Rs. 4.15 per km. To give an example, a car travelling along the entire length of the expressway will pay Rs 101.25.

This project will cost you Rs 1,800 crore. What is the payback period?
The payback period depends on the concession period, which is the period during which KMP Expressway will build and operate this project. The concession period here is 23 years and nine months. That includes the three years it will take to construct the expressway.

What are some of the notable features of this expressway?
It will be an international class project. The aggregate used for constructing the expressway has been imported from our facilities abroad. So you won’t find any undulations or potholes, and it will withstand hail, rain, and high temperatures. At crossovers, where this highway intersects another, there will be no blocks or jams.

The tolling process will use the latest technology. Regular users will flash a smart card to gain access. For those paying cash there will be a separate lane. Even here the transaction won’t take more than 10-12 seconds.

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